Close friends Michelle Scarafile and Pam Hartley began The Charleston Basket Brigade in 2008 with a commitment to bring the community together to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need in Charleston, SC. “When we found out that there were children going to bed hungry right here in Charleston, we knew we had to do something about it,” said Pam.
Michelle and Pam met in 2006 during a leadership seminar held by Anthony Robbins and became fast friends. In 2008, Michelle brought the idea to create a Basket Brigade to Pam and they both quickly got into action. “I knew that Pam and I could really make a difference here in Charleston. When the recession hit, we knew that there were so many families…so many kids that were impacted locally”.
The Basket Brigade concept was inspired by Anthony Robbins, whose foundation feeds more than two million each year. In the first year, the duo fed 75 families. In 2009, they recruited more volunteers and the effort raised over $12,900 to feed 430 families. In 2010, the effort more than tripled raising $48,840 and feeding 1628 families at Thanksgiving. In 2011, $75,000 was raised and 2,506 families were fed, exceeding the non-profit’s goal. Over $100,000 was raised in 2012 with 3,350 families receiving a meal, followed by 3,050 families in 2013. 2014 was a success feeding and 3,323 families in 2014…all delivered in the rain nonetheless!
2015 & 2016 have been the biggest years yet where the brigade served 3,500 families in need every year. Over the past nine years, the brigade has raised $640,170 and served 21,339 families in need (approximately 128,000 people) with the help of thousands of Charleston volunteers and donors. We plan to AT LEAST match 2016 and are on a mission to again feed 3,500 families (approximately 21,000 people) in need for Thanksgiving in 2017.
“There is a great need for those in our community, and that is why we are dedicated to feeding at least 3,500 families again this year,” said Hartley. “And with the assistance of so many incredible organizations and community members, we know we can make it happen.”
Our goal for 2017 is to do no less than to feed 3,500 families. It only takes a $30 donation to feed an entire family of six.
100% of funds raised are utilized to buy food. Each family receives a box with all of the ingredients to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal including a 10-12 lb. turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fresh rolls, and a pumpkin pie. Also inside the box is an anonymous letter that reads, “This comes to you from someone who cares about you. All we ask is that you take care of yourself well enough to be able to do this for someone else one day.”
Each meal is assembled and anonymously hand-delivered by CBB volunteers on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This year the brigade takes place at 7am on Tuesday, November 21st at the Charleston Area Convention Center Exhibit Hall C (5000 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston, SC 29418).
This fundraising effort would not be possible without the commitment of Piggly Wiggly, Carolina One Real Estate, Communities In Schools, Momentum Marketing, the City of North Charleston and many local businesses, organizations, caring friends, families and community members.
The Charleston Area Convention Center donates a 20,000 square foot space to serve as the central staging area for meal assembly and meal delivery.
Piggly Wiggly is our local grocery store champion that manages the massive food order, delivers all of the food to the Convention Center, and provides us with a sizable donation!
Communities In Schools, a non-profit organization that serves over 12,000 students in Charleston and Berkeley counties, is an integral part of our effort. They locate majority of the families that will receive meal donations and they are also invaluable when it comes to mapping directions for delivery.
Hundreds of local volunteers in the community, along with Carolina One staffers, raise money, assemble the meals and then deliver meals to the families. Momentum Marketing leads the event coordination, community outreach, public relations and social media.
At the heart of the Charleston Basket Brigade we are a mission to not only provide these families with food, but with a joyous holiday experience that they would otherwise not have. Families are able to cook the meal together, and sit around the dinner table and share in this special Thanksgiving experience.
The responses from families that receive a basket from the group are overwhelmingly appreciative and oftentimes tear-filled. One parent said emphatically, “Oh thank you, thank you so much, prayers really do get answered.”